January 30, 2009

D’oh! Canada


So Reed Exhibitions Canada has been having trouble with publishers large and small withdrawing from its BookExpo Canada convention, and seemed on the verge of having to cancel it entirely when the biggest of the big, Random House Canada and Penguin Canada pulled out (see the MobyLives reports here and here). So, Reed developed a more consumer-oriented event called the Toronto Book Fair, as it seemed what publishers were asking for. So, eh, yesterday Random House and Penguin pulled out of that one, too.

As James Adams reports in Globe & Mail story, the problem seems to be one of timing: Reed sandwiched the Toronto event between two other popular consumer-oriented book fairs held in the fall, Toronto’s Word on the Street festival and the International Festival of Authors. As MobyLives commented at the time, it seemed an attempt by Reed to kill the competition — an attempt that now seems to have backfired badly. A Penguin spokeswoman told Adams her firm “has a lot of public events scheduled … [so] we don’t plan to be there.” A Random House representative said the company was “concerned” about the success of the new fair, “given these challenges.” Adams says, “Expectations are high that Reed will soon announce it is shuttering BookExpo. With the Random and Penguin exits yesterday, a cancellation of its book fair wouldn’t be unexpected.”

Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House. Follow him on Twitter at @mobylives